Volume. XXXI, No. 16
Sunday, 16 October 2016


Thankfulness - Part 2


In last week’s article, Dn Colin wrote about thankfulness, particularly about the important role that it has in a Christian’s life as a command and expectation.  He shared that giving thanks to God is not optional, and that it something we should desire to do as we grow in Christ and appreciate more and more the great goodness of our Lord.  Last week, we read about how we must be thankful for our salvation and eternal life, our well-being and our enjoyment of food.  This week, Dn Colin continues his article, writing more on the things we can give thanks for.
Our families
As a family man, I would also like to say that we can be thankful for our families.  It is in families that we are bound to one another by blood ties as well as the intimacy of living together, and it is in families that we can honestly share our fears and anxieties, our hopes and dreams, our likes and dislikes, our ambitions and disappointments freely.  We are accustomed to one another, we are familiar with one another, we love and care for one another (even if we may not care to admit it), we support each other.  Yes, there are times we get upset and argue with one another, and we might even think how good it would be to not be part of the family.  But when I have had to be away from my family for a few weeks due to work or some other reason, I very quickly miss my family when we are apart for more than a day or so.  It gets lonely and strangely quiet without the usual hustle and bustle of family life, and eating alone without the family is a sad experience.
I believe that God created families not just to fulfil His command to “…, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: ...” (as we find in Genesis 1:28), but also to teach us spiritual truths (a glimpse of Christ’s love and devotion within the family relationship, and in the parent-child relationship, a glimpse of God’s patience and tenderness towards us, His children), as well as providing emotional support as we go through life that we might be of use to Him.  For all this, we should cherish our families with thanksgiving.
The times when less is more
There may be some of us who might think that if we were rich, we would be so happy that we would be thankful.  However, this is not what is recounted in the Bible, and as we can see, many wealthy people in this world just waste their lives away in scandals and addictions.  Ecclesiastes records that even one of the wealthiest men that ever lived, King Solomon, who was able to indulge in whatsoever he desired, concluded that all of it was vanity without God.  It is a gift from God when we are able to enjoy, and be thankful for, what we have received from His hand (whether it be much or little).  Wealth and power can cause us to turn away from God if we are not careful, and so it is a blessing, and something to be thankful for, when God gives us more of Himself and less of the things of this world; when He gives us just enough - "Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain." (Proverbs 30:8-9)
It is not what we have or how much we have, but who we share it with that matters.  Less can be more as Proverbs 15:16-17 teaches us - "Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."  Though I would not wish anyone to be in dire poverty, nevertheless sometimes I believe the experience of deprivations of some kind can actually help us to be more thankful and appreciative of what we have.
Of course there is so much more we can give thanks to the Lord for than what has been covered, and “… if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written.” (John 21:250).  With so much to be thankful for, giving thanks is more than just good manners.  The importance of thanksgiving in the Christian life cannot be overstated.
II. Give thanks to the Lord in such ways that …
We appreciate God and those around us (Colossians 1:12-14; 2:7; Psalm 30:4)
We all know the Gospel message, how God saved us from the eternal damnation we so richly deserve by giving us His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins.  It is through Christ that our relationship with God has been restored.  An important aspect of fostering good relationships is appreciation.  It is only when we realise the majesty of God's perfect holiness and righteousness that we begin to appreciate the enormity of sin.  It is only when we realise the sacrifice and willingness of Christ to die for our sins (while we were still His enemies) that we appreciate the extent of God's love for us.  It is only when we realise that God continues to sustain us with His Holy Spirit and daily provisions that we appreciate the goodness of God.  As our appreciation for God grows, so does our desire to fellowship and please Him grow.
Our appreciation and love for God must also extend to one another (John 15:17; Romans 12:10) for the unity and edification of the Body of Christ (Romans 14:19).  Appreciating how our Heavenly Father forgives and accepts us as we are in our imperfections should also help us learn to accept others as they are, and seek to edify them as our Heavenly Father is seeking to edify us into the image of Christ.  In this way, appreciation through thanksgiving helps us and the Church to grow together in Christ.
We teach ourselves to be contented and not covetous
Being grateful or thankful helps us to focus on our blessings (how much we have) rather than what we don't have but want.  Focusing on what we don't have makes us covetous, but focusing on our blessings helps us become happier and contented.  When we are contented with God's provision of our daily bread (1Timothy 6:8) and eternal life (Hebrews 13:5) we no longer covet the temporal things of this world that will cause us to lose our soul – “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).  Thanksgiving then promotes godly contentment which is great gain (from 1Timothy 6:6).
We strengthen our faith in times of trials
How does thanksgiving strengthen our faith in times of trials?  David could write so many Psalms of thanksgiving in spite of the trials he faced because he always recalled the goodness of God in his life (Psalm 30:1-12).  Similarly, Paul could encourage us to "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:6-7) and could declare, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13) because Paul remembered that through his trials God's grace was sufficient for him; and God's strength was made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).  And today, we have Jesus’ assurance that "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Just as our bodies become stronger when we exercise it, thanksgiving strengthens our faith in times of trials by exercising our faith.  As we are reminded by our past experiences, how God was with us and how God strengthened us, so by faith we believe that God will continue to be with us, and God will continue to strengthen us.  No matter what trials we face, we can have confidence that our salvation is sure because Christ has overcome the world.
….to be continued next week.
(This message was preached by Dn Colin Gan on The Lord’s Day, 25 September 2016)

More Lively Hope

 

Announcements

Kitchen Roster - Helpers this week: Bros Houston Li & Jae Hoon Mun; Sis Kristy Low. Helpers next week: Bro Kevin Low; Sisters Jen Xin Li & Jun Lin.
*Special thanks - Guest Speakers: Rev Dr J & Mrs S George; Sunday School teachers, organisers, helpers, food/drinks & transport providers & parents for making the Holiday Bible Club a fruitful experience for our children; & hopefuls who had provided hospitality to our guest speakers, & making them feel at home.
*Devotional materials: Daily Manna, Junior & Adult RPGs for Oct - Dec QTR available on foyer table. (Donation: $1 per copy).
*Sparks4Christ/YAF Activity next Fri: please note that the programme will start at 6:30 pm sharp.
*Fellowship Lunch: $3 per person. Free for pre-primary & primary school age students & visitors.

Praise & Thanksgiving
Journey mercies: Rev Dr & Mrs J George (Ind); & others arriving safely at their destinations.
Visitors & new worshippers.
God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.
Church activities in the past week.
Holiday Bible Club & Ministry of the Georges at Hope BPC.
Good health - Sis Emily Zhang & her son, Matthew.
Anniversary Thanksgiving: Life BPC’s 66th, Maranatha BPC’s 26th & True Life BPC’s 13th.

Prayer Items
Health & God’s healing - Pastor Ki; Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Patrick Tan (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; & others in affliction.
Special Prayer: Rev George van Buuren (post-procedure); Bro Grant Munchenberg; Mr Balan Sanders (Hampstead); Sis Julie Tan (shingles).
iSketch & Tell Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim’s ministry in Melbourne.
Cambodia Missions:
Missions work: Rev Dr J & Mrs S George.
New Life BPC (London) - Dr Carl Martin; God’s guidance & encouragement for Task Force & congregation.
Theological studies for Dn Sung Hyun Ma & Bro Kevin Low & families.
Youth & Assistant Pastor for Hope B-P Church.
God’s guidance for Covenant, Ebenezer, Hope & Providence BPCs to form an Australian B-P Presbytery.
Journey mercies: & others who are travelling.
Postnatal health - Sis Maritas Mangco (Cebu) & health of newborn baby.
Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.
Year 12 students preparing for exams: Bros Timothy Gan & Benjamin Wong; & Sis Emilie Kour.
God’s guidance for trouble-free settlement of new church on 20 Jan 2017.
Australia - Salvation of Australians & for our politicians not to pass any legislation that is against God’s Law.
 Jobs - Those seeking for employment.
 Believers under persecution in Islamic, communist, Hindu & Buddhist countries.
18. God’s wisdom & guidance for Session Meeting.

 

 

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